I went to a beautiful concert this weekend. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra does a Christmas concert and I had been wanting to go back to the ASO ever since a client of mine first took me a few years ago. First of all, I love all things Christmas, especially the music. The first orchestra concert I ever attended was not Christmas- themed, however, and I was unsure whether or not I would enjoy it, since I am not particularly up on my classical music. It turns out, I was completely mesmerized by my experience, and ironically, the music was secondary to the things I had enjoyed most. My hope for the Christmas concert this weekend was that I would experience the same thrill as I had the first time, of the deeper life lessons that the symphony is symbolic of.
The orchestra is comprised of four primary sections- all with their own unique contribution to the symphony as a whole. There are the strings, with the harp and cello being among its family members. There are the woodwinds, with their flutes and clarinets. Trumpets and tubas blow in the brass family. Last, but certainly not least, the cymbals and bass drums round out the orchestra in the percussion family. A choral symphony is when the orchestra is accompanied by a choir and perhaps a soloist. The Christmas concert I attended featured both an adult and children's choir, as well as a soloist. In short, there are lots of moving parts that contribute to a successful symphonic evening.
While I sat as a spectator in this elaborate musical choreography, many things struck me. I watched as the cello section played in unison, their fingers engaged in a precise dance of the strings that was exactly replicated by each musician. When they had finished with their part, the entire section finished their last note together, making the way for their flute friends to continue the piece. And so it continued, as one section played, the others waited patiently for their turn, reverently enjoying their relative music makers. I watched and listened to the adult chorus, observing how carefully they held their song books and making a game of trying to pick out individual vocal range while also enjoying the performance as a single sound. When the soloist took the spotlight, he delivered the most mesmerizing version of Ave Maria I have ever seen performed live. True, it's the only version of Ave Maria I've seen performed live, but still. He was really good, lol. Of course, the conductor was front and center, leading the way as the facilitator for every member to look to as a guide through the evening and rely on to carry them through both individually and as a connected community of musicians, if they would but follow his signals. My favorite part of the entire evening however, was when the children's chorus sang. Yes, they sounded angelic and were poised and sophisticatedly behaved. But what I loved most was how all the adults watched and listened to them as if they were the most important little people in the world. They sat completely still and fixed their eyes on the kids through the entire part of their concert, and at the end the conductor made sure that the little ones received the greatest applause.
I couldn't help relate my experience at the symphony to my own life, and how I choose to experience it. I, like all the rest of us spend much of my time trying to "make it" in this world, as defined by a culture of success measured in dollar signs. The size of your bank account equals the size of your worth. I find myself daydreaming about how much better things will be, how much happier I will be once I have a certain dollar amount in my bank account and I can afford to pay my children's way for every extracurricular activity imaginable so that they will grow up the most well- rounded individuals on the planet who will also have plenty of money in their bank accounts, and no hardships or sadness will ever come to them. Yeah, right. Instead, here are some things that happen when I allow my mind to believe the cultural lie about what constitutes my happiness and self- worth. I am too distracted trying to achieve that I miss the opportunities to have the seemingly insignificant conversations with my kids. Hint: Those seemingly insignificant times are usually the times they pour their heart out if you'd sit still long enough to listen. I miss the miracle of a rainy Spring day because of the inconvenience of having to drive slower, forgetting that the water that so freely falls from the sky is a free gift from God, or the Universe, or whatever you feel comfortable calling it, that sustains every living thing. I miss the intimacy of a quiet conversation with my beloved, or a phone call with a friend or relative I need connecting with because I think I don't have enough time. And most importantly, I miss caring for myself with the respect and love for the absolute miracle that is my life because I think that worth comes from the outside in instead of the other way around.
When we strive to live our lives as a symphony, however, the potential for how we positively experience ourselves, our loved ones, and even our community is greatly magnified. By recognizing the absolute necessity of making our own self-care the primary importance in our lives, we are essentially fine tuning our instrument. Consistent practice of the Four Seeds of Self-Care will, in time, grow optimal brain health where we begin to recognize our natural talents and seek to share our talents with like-minded individuals, creating strong sections of our community. When we are strong in our health and innate abilities, we naturally want the same for and praise others when they begin to develop as well, or "come into their own." It is exciting and we watch with respect and gratitude all the individuals who are doing the good work of creating their own healthy circles of self, family, and community. Children are treated with reverence and meticulous care because it is clear that they are the treasures that will decide whether our culture becomes selfish or symphonic. Competition is low because there is no comparing strings to percussion, or woodwinds to brass. Every family is capable of its own beautiful sound and every member is confident enough in their own light that they are content and even joyful to watch others take their place in the spotlight, recognizing that there is a time and space for all of us to shine. If we allow ourselves to surrender to this flow, we will find that our conductor leads us at the perfect time, through a symphony of life that has been carefully and thoughtfully composed especially for us.
With love and gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel